Monday, December 20, 2004

Who is that Woman?

Saturday, I found myself standing in a non-moving check-out line at Toys R Us. I always pick the line that doesn't move. It's a gift, really. The clerk had no gift receipt tape in her register.

So, as I stood, now blocked by the crowd, unable to move to another line, holding my two pathetic items (half-off), I stare off into the distance and realize that I am staring at myself in a mirrored window.

I hardly recognized myself. When did I turn into a middle-aged woman? How did my hair get so dark? Why do the circles under my eyes look so pronounced when I used concealer and foundation? Where are my lips? I remember when I was 28 and a friend of mine who was over forty told me that her lips had no color anymore. I thought that was odd, but here I am, on the brink of forty with colorless lips.

I'm beginning to see a disconnect between what I look like and how I feel. I don't feel like that pale, weary, frazzled woman. My grandmother is 98, almost 99 now and I'm guessing that she feels the same way. Our souls stay so much the same while our bodies morph into someone we don't recognize.

It's funny because I see my husband as the same man I first eyed nearly twenty years ago. Sometimes I consciously note his balding head and the gray on the sides and the wrinkled spot right above his ears, but mostly, I see him without really seeing his outer shell. He looks the same to me, even though he is twenty years older.

Madeline L'Engle points out that when we are in the midst of creating something, we become entirely unself-conscious, in the way that children are unself-conscious. Children do not ponder the shape of their noses or the symmetry of their faces. They have the gift of unawareness of their appearances. I wonder if the older you become, the more childlike and therefore, the more unself-conscious you can become.

With unself-consciousness comes freedom to really develop the person you are when your looks don't matter. . . which, if you are me, is most of the time.


Blogger Bella said...

I know exactly what you mean.
I'm 42 (nearly) and stopped wearing concealer and makeup nearly two years ago. I feel and look so much better for it. Of course, I can't go without my lip balm...
It's all about how we feel on the inside. Pretty fades, intelligence is permanent.

7:39 AM  
Blogger Stacy said...

You expressed so well, what I often feel. I'm a 40 yr old wife and mother on the outside, but there's still an 18 yr old on the inside screaming to get out.

8:15 AM  
Blogger Demented M said...

I pick the bad lines too. It's not a gift, it's a curse!

9:16 AM  
Blogger Square1 said...

I'm only 24 but can relate to your post. You're probably thinking, "Yeah right, what do you know you whipper-snapper?!" As they say, it's not the years... it's the miles. I've seen a lot of miles in my young life. I seem to have donned the cloak of invisibility to the extent I've become invisible to myself.

9:41 AM  
Blogger Marguerite said...

Five and a half years ago my favorite dog was killed by a stone thrown by a garbage truck. It was as if a loved family member had died - because a loved family member had died.

I found myself shedding tears at random moments throughout the day, so I stopped wearing makeup. It was an introduction to the freedom to have a clean face. Wash it, moisturize it, don't worry about it.

Now I don't cry anymore, but I don't wear makeup anymore either. At (almost) 60 I've got better ways to spend my money and time.

3:57 PM  
Blogger Jan said...

When I see myself in a full-length mirror or a photo, I am astonished. When I think of myself, I picture me at 20. Now I'm 41 and overweight. The disconnect is huge! I suppose that is why we should occupy ourselves rather than spend time contemplating ourselves. Its soul preservation!

10:46 AM  
Blogger Rebecca Seiler said...

Ladies, i am only 15 and i don't walk out of the house without makeup, B/c of my magnet school, they require 200% of your time, so where does that leave time to pamper yourself? not much time at all, thats why i have to wear concealer under my eyes, b/c if i didn't people would see the horror. Bad spots on a body come in all shapes and sizes, some girls dont like their noses, other aren't happy with how much weight they pack, and others are just conscious about how they look 24/7 (which is me)lol, and i don't believe that children don't go through the same things that adults go through, Ive never met a single person in my short life so far that hasn't been deprived of sleep, or doesn't like the way they look.

9:22 PM  

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